Interruptions from cell phones have grown increasingly common in courts, says USA Today. Black Hawk County, Ia., Judge Thomas Bower says a cell phone rendition of “When The Saints Go Marching In” recently began too play in the middle of a felony theft sentencing. The technology poses new challenges for judges, who must maintain courtroom decorum and consider other legal issues in a world where Facebook, Twitter, and cameras are now at the fingertips of many cellphone users.
Last month, a federal judge in Georgia banned a newspaper reporter from posting information on Twitter from a handheld electronic device, after the man on trial objected. U.S. District Judge Clay Land ruled that the online microblogging service qualifies as “broadcasting,” which is banned under federal court rules. Courts are trying to decide what policies to enact for phone usage, and how best to use it to promote understanding of the courts, said Chris Davey, an Ohio courts spokesman. Davey, who also heads the New Media Committee of the Conference of Court Public Information Officers, says the group will conduct a detailed study of the technology this spring.